Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

It’s 9 months since Jakub Kiwior’s arrival at Arsenal however trying again on his dizzying, £20m switch from Spezia, when he swapped a Serie A relegation battle for a Premier League title problem, nonetheless brings a smile from the softly-spoken centre-back.

“The feelings have been excessive from the very starting – even from the second I heard the rumours that they have been excited by me,” he tells Sky Sports activities in a quiet nook of the membership’s coaching floor. “That alone was big for me. After that, I used to be very pleased to signal.”

He was happier nonetheless when, the day earlier than his transfer was made official, he was invited to observe Arsenal’s pulsating 3-2 win over Manchester United on the Emirates Stadium, an exhilarating spectacle which confirmed him first-hand what he was about to stroll into.

“If you’re already with us, you might be already with us,” mentioned Oleksandr Zinchenko as he pulled his new team-mate into the dressing-room celebrations afterwards. “The feelings have been excessive then, too,” provides Kiwior, smiling once more. “I used to be actually pleased to have the ability to do this.”

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Arsenal had been monitoring him intently however the deal was a shock to simply about everybody else. Kiwior, 23, got here with excessive potential however a low profile. He had solely made his Poland debut six months earlier. Earlier than becoming a member of Spezia in 2021, he was taking part in for Zilina in Slovakia.

No shock, then, that Mikel Arteta selected to mattress him in slowly. In addition to being new to the extent, Kiwior arrived with no information of English. He needed to wait two months to be handed his debut.

“I needed to play minutes as quickly as doable however I used to be informed that I wanted to be calm, that I wanted time to settle in,” he says, talking with the assistance of an interpreter as he continues his efforts to be taught the language.

“These two months have been necessary for me. It was an enormous change. I simply tried to be targeted within the coaching periods and to get settled. The minutes finally got here, so it was a really invaluable time.”

He made his first look within the Europa League towards Sporting in March. After that, following cameos towards Crystal Palace and Liverpool, he excelled on his full Premier League debut, a 3-1 win over Chelsea which reignited Arsenal’s title hopes – albeit quickly.

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Jakub Kiwior signed a long-term contract at Arsenal

“Each match is necessary however it was good for me that I performed effectively towards Chelsea,” he says. “It motivated me to proceed working laborious.

“Then, scoring my first aim within the final match of the season towards Wolves was particular too. After all, we have been already successful, however it’s at all times necessary to attain your first aim for a membership.”

It was necessary, too, to make a optimistic impression on Arteta. “He’s a participant that I actually like, that is why I signed him,” mentioned the Arsenal supervisor in Might. “He has the potential, at his age, to be nice.”

Arteta will not be alone in ranking Kiwior extremely. Robert Lewandowski, his Poland team-mate, raved about his “extraordinary” skill after his first worldwide call-up final yr. His regular progress at Arsenal ensures he’s certain to function extra prominently this season.

Not that he has let the reward to his head. Kiwior is a quiet character whose shyness comes throughout on this, certainly one of his first main interviews as an Arsenal participant. However there’s a steeliness to him too.

“It is excellent to listen to such optimistic phrases out of your coach,” he says of Arteta’s feedback. “It clearly helps to bolster your confidence. However I strive not to consider it an excessive amount of as a result of I do know it will probably have the countereffect as effectively.”

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It’s an angle which ought to serve him effectively beneath a supervisor who strives for fixed enchancment and the admiration is mutual.

“I’ll say what all the opposite gamers say – that the connection and co-operation is extraordinarily good, and his ways as effectively,” he says.

“He is ready to convey what he means very effectively. Even when I needed to say one thing unfavourable, there’s nothing unfavourable to say.”

Kiwior has been notably impressed by the Spaniard’s consideration to element, together with the artistic, motivational crew talks glimpsed within the All or Nothing documentary two seasons in the past.

“It’s extremely completely different to what I used to be used to,” he says. “Coming right here, it is the primary time I’ve seen this last assembly earlier than going out on the pitch appear like it does right here. It is actually one thing new.

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“I used to be fairly stunned that one thing like this was even doable, {that a} coach might give you these ideas to form our angle to the sport by way of all kinds of competitions and challenges to focus our minds.”

Kiwior typifies that focus in addition to anybody. The Pole remains to be working to carry down a beginning spot in Arsenal’s defence however he provides off no sense of frustration at his inconsistent taking part in time; solely a willpower to grab his probabilities after they come.

“Now we have glorious gamers right here. The extent of competitors could be very excessive. However I am pleased that I’m able to compete with such good gamers. Even when I am not chosen within the beginning line-up, I am making an attempt my finest.

“I am pleased every time I will assist the crew, so I do not understand the competitors as one thing dangerous.”

Most of Kiwior’s appearances to date have are available in central defence however his tactical intelligence is such that he has additionally embraced the duty of filling in as an inverted left-back. Again at Spezia, his ball-playing skill even noticed him utilized in central midfield.

His versatility shaped a big a part of his enchantment to Arsenal. In reality, it was one of many first qualities talked about by Arteta following the announcement of his arrival. Kiwior, for his half, simply desires to assist the crew in any place he can.

“I nonetheless suppose my favorite and finest place is centre-back however it’s the coach who decides the place I play and I at all times know the place I am taking part in earlier than the match. Now, it isn’t that necessary for me. I simply really feel good taking part in. I am pleased so long as I’ve minutes on the pitch.”

Kiwior appears relaxed about his prospects of taking part in extra commonly. He realized the significance of endurance and perseverance throughout a circuitous path to the highest which additionally moulded the steely mentality with which he’s approaching this new problem in England.

At simply 23, he has already performed in 5 completely different nations, shifting from Poland to Belgium to enrol in Anderlecht’s academy as a young person, then departing to Slovakia in the hunt for first-team soccer and getting his transfer to Spezia three years later.

“It was crucial for me to play in several leagues as a younger participant,” he says. “After all, taking part in at first-team degree at a younger age, there have been massive expectations and I realized rather a lot.

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Jakub Kiwior is relishing the competitors for locations at Arsenal

“It was tough to get right here. Arsenal is among the greatest golf equipment on this planet and it is an honour to play for them. However my earlier expertise was crucial too. I’ve to thank all of the golf equipment I performed for earlier than.”

His time in Serie A, a proving floor for younger defenders, was notably invaluable. “It helped me, not solely throughout coaching periods, but additionally the matches. It was the perfect lesson I might have as a defender, to have the ability to expertise that soccer each week.”

His 18-month spell there set him up for his subsequent step however did he ever dream it might come at a membership as massive as this? Kiwior shrugs. “I am unsure I truly dreamed about it,” he says, “however I targeted on doing it and I am pleased that I’ve achieved that aim.”

Now, his focus is to ascertain himself on this Arsenal crew and assist them go one higher than final time period. “Each participant desires to combat and get three factors in each match,” he says. “We led the desk final yr. This time, we hope we can stick with it till the very finish.”

Jakub Kiwior, their softly-spoken centre-back with the angle to match his skill, is greater than able to play his half.

Watch Everton vs Arsenal reside on Sky Sports activities Premier League from 4pm on Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm

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